3..2..1..Paleo!

We’re getting back into Paleo eating, now that we’re in the new place.  We’ve done pretty well in the last week, but tonight, we’re gearing up for the Squeaky Clean Paleo plan featured in Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. Note: this is NOT a sponsored post.

image

Pumpkin cranberry muffins, pumpkin pancakes, spaghetti squash bolognese, ribs with green beans, pineapple teriyaki chicken, home made cranberry sauce

Call me crazy, but I feel like eating healthy should taste good.  The recipes that I’ve tried from this book hit that mark. Jeff is excited about cooking again, too, but not about the dishes…because cooking every meal requires lots of dishes.

Tonight I’ve dirtied up a few mixing bowls, some knives, pans, spoons, cutting boards, and towels cooking up some meals for tonight and tomorrow.  I’ve got stuffed cabbage rolls with a cranberry tomato sauce in the oven, along with a “swirly crustless quiche” made with carrots, zucchini, and about a dozen eggs.  I’ll be making mustard glazed chicken thighs shortly, and tomorrow we’ll have a braised beef dinner.

image

Our fridge is fully stocked with yummy foods and I’m ready for this adventure.

What is your favorite thing to make in the fall? Share your favorite crafts and recipes, below.

First Time Home Buying Experience

My last post was made before we closed on the house–I’m sorry to have been away for so long!! The month of October absolutely flew by.  We are only just now starting to really feel settled into our home.  The closing went really smoothly.  I took half a day off of work and met up with Jeff and our Realtor at the office where our closing was being hosted.  We met the previous owners who seemed like really kind people.  The woman was dismayed to find out that I didn’t like pugs as well as she does, and the man let us know that the electrical update was just a partial update.  The signing of the paperwork flew by–it took less than an hour to go over everything and then we were presented with our very own keys!  Just like that we were home-owners.

We knew going into it that there would be some things to fix around the house, and, being first time home-buyers meant that we didn’t have any of the essentials that we would need to take care of the property.  Off we went to the housing store to get the essentials.  Mom and Keith picked up a new lock set for us, and we picked up rakes, shovels, ice picks, a furnace filter, broom, push broom, dryer vent cleaning kit, extension cords, paint, rollers, edgers, etc.  Over the next few weeks we’d make so many more trips to the hardware store.  We had to buy joint compound and mesh tape, hammers, scrapers, chisels, wrenches, dryer vent kits (x2, one of the expandable semi-rigid metal, and another of straight pipe style aluminum).  Just when we thought we could afford it, we splurged in a snow blower and a couple of leaf blowers… half an acre isn’t going to take care of itself.

Then we moved in.  We had a ton of help and really appreciated all of our family and friends who came out to support us.  Our driveways were full of the cars from all of the volunteers.  Shout outs go to Eli, Nickola, Wes, Gloria, Mike, Mom, Keith, and Michael.  Steph had to work, but sent good vibes anyway :D  And to our long distance friends who totally would’ve schlepped boxes on our behalf: Corine, Lori, Ross, Ray, Anne, et al. Thank you so much for sending us your happy vibes.

The first week, things started falling apart.  First, it was the water main.  The seller’s disclosure said that they had to snake the main every other year for roots… so, I don’t know why, but I expected to be able to wait to do that until next year.  Nope.  We had water in our basement on day one.  On Day 2, we went to clean the dryer vent only to find it so stuffed with lint that it really was better to replace it–and luckily we found it because it was burned through on the back.  On Day 3, I had a technician out for our stove which was irreparable, and the home warranty company decided not to cover it.  I blew up at my Realtor for misleading us, and she helped us to get a new one.  Since I was home, we also had the internet service provider out–who found wires to be chewed through and that’s outside of his scope.  When it finally came time to install the replacement stove, I ended up coiling the gas line in on itself because I was a schmuck who didn’t know that you had to use two wrenches.  Then we had to buy a new service door because we couldn’t get the new lock set to fit on the old one, which had been rigged.  Needless to say, being home-owners was stressful!

photovisi-download

We got all of those issues taken care of (thanks go to my very flexible employer for allowing me to work from home while figuring this crap out).  That brings us to today.  I am working from home because I have (yet another) contractor coming out to take a look at issues that we’re having with this house.  When the stove was replaced, it was discovered that the floor was sinking underneath it.  This rang alarm bells quite loudly in my head and I told Jeff that we need to prioritize the fix immediately.  We knew that there were structural issues with this house, but we didn’t appreciate just how extensive or expensive they would be.  The home inspection said that there were “missing or insufficient” supports in our basement, but that we probably wouldn’t have to repair it immediately.  The logic was that the house has stood this long, it’s not likely to just fall down tomorrow.  The previous owners had lived here for 28 years, and so we listened and thought that we’d eventually fix the structure, but we’d save up for it first.  Seeing the floor bowing under the weight of the old stove frightened me, though–what if the new stove falls right through?? And with it being a gas stove, that could cause an explosion on top of it! (I have a really active imagination…)

We brought in a structural engineer to take a look at the place, and he made a lot of recommendations.  He even made some thinly veiled suggestions that were outside of his paid scope on things we need to seriously consider for the future as well.  I’d say it was worth every penny paid to be able to talk to someone who knew what we would be in for.

engineer

Here is one of the photos that was included in the engineer’s report for us.  It shows the I-beam (with surface rust), a 6×6 support beam that has been cut to make room for the duct work, and the (empty) masonry pocket that the beam should be sitting in.  This is all right below where my stove sits.  What adds to the crisis is the fact that there is another 4×4 post that supports a whole corner of my house that has recently been discovered to be splintering at the bottom.  And splitting in the middle.  And there are two other steel shores that are missing from this set-up.

Now, the United States is a very litigious society.  In fact, when Jeff originally moved here, his Canadian insurance provider advised him to seek greater than $1M in coverage in case someone sues him.  It’s well documented that our first instinct is to sue.  So when these issues became revealed to us, I started plotting my court case.  I called the city to get a history of permits pulled on this property, I called my Realtor to explain the situation that we’re now in, I studied both the seller’s disclosure and the inspection report to find problems.  I found that the sellers indicated that the structure to this house had *not* been changed.

So here I was, all rarin to go.  I was worked into a tissy and determined that the sellers were going to help us shoulder this burden, come hell or high water.  And then Jeff piped up.  Are we blind? (no.) Stupid? (no.) Naive? (well…)  He didn’t ask all of these questions to make his point, but he essentially said that we knew that this house had issues coming into it and that it’s our problem now.  We noticed ourselves that there were missing supports, I noticed myself that the beam was cut when we were doing the walk through.  Just because we didn’t appreciate how much it was going to cost at the time doesn’t mean that it’s not our fault for buying this house when we knew it had issues.  He is of the opinion, and I am in agreement with him, that we bought this house with eyes wide open.  We should have done our research before signing on the dotted line, and now it is our responsibility to make sure that it’s done right.  To take responsibility for these repairs is not to let the previous owners “walk all over us,” as I had argued, it is merely to own our mistakes and acknowledge that we made the decision to move in here.  We’re not stupid, we’re not blind, and we’re not incapable of research, and so there’s no reason for us to try to pin this issue on the sellers when we were aware of it before moving in.

This, dear reader, is where I’ve been all month.  I’ve been moving in and cleaning, but mostly fixing our new home.  The issues have made me just a tiny bit bitter about the experience, but I am trying to take it for what it is:  experience.  This is still a lovely home and it will be a great home for many years once we get these issues out of the way.  I love the peace and sophistication of my dining room.  I enjoyed taking our outdated bathroom and making it our own.  The rooms echo with our laughter already and the cats have really settled in–running amok all over the place as often as they like.

If I had a piece of advice to offer a 1st time home buyer (or any home buyer for that matter), it would be this:  Get an inspection report and pay close attention to it.  If there is no cost for remediation, or if it’s out of the scope of your inspector, take the time to look online (at the very least!) or call around to get an idea of how much a repair is going to cost.  It was $168 to have our drains cleared.  $120 to have our stove looked at.  $1000 to have it replaced.  It would’ve been $300 to have it installed if I hadn’t taken on that project.  I’m getting bids on it, but it’s going to be close to, if not upwards of $10,000 to have the structural issues fixed… and that doesn’t even begin to cover the electrical or the plumbing.  Will it be worth it?  Emotionally, sure!  It’s a great house that we can really make ours.  Financially?  Who knows.  These are issues that should’ve never been a problem in the first place, so I can’t say that we’ll see a return on our investment.  What I *can* say, though, is that fixing these issues will make sure that they don’t count against us if we ever go to sell this house, and having these issues fixed will make us that much more comfortable while we’re living here.

United Way 2014 opening ceremonies: VIP Lounge

image

Mom and me, livin' it up, VIP

This week stands to be one of the best ones of the year.  United Way events are in full swing and the team has done a fantastic job coming up with a theme that is fun for all.  They went with a “Hollywood/VIP” theme and the opening ceremonies included VIP Lounge with bubbly*, appetizers, and lunch.  It was a formal affair with men in tuxedos, women in gowns, and everyone looking and acting their best.

image

image

image

The way that this works as a fund raiser is that the company puts up the money for events and activities, and then sells tickets to the events and activities.  For $20, I got to step away from my desk, walk the red carpet (complete with paparazzi), and be escorted to the VIP Lounge where I schmoozed with other VIPs, ate appetizers, and drank bubbly* while listening to the opening ceremony.

image

image

After the pomp and circumstance of the opening ceremonies, myself and other VIPs were treated to a fine meal, and gifted a swag bag.

image

It had play dough and chap stick included :) and a glitter gel pen. Haha! I’m thrilled.  It also came with wet wipes and airborne, I assume, because flu season has started.  It was totally random, but it was so unexpected that it made me laugh.

image

All in all, I had a great time, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the week!

*bubbly=sparkling pear juice :)

Sh-Boom! Life Could Be a Dream

 

The title is inspired by the track that is playing in the background as I write this post.  I am such a lucky person.  Gainfully employed, completing my degree, happily in love and married, and about to buy my own home…. what’s not to love?  Life really could be a dream.

This morning when I came to work, my mom was approaching my desk with a gift for me:  It’s a binder with copies of execises that she’s collected from her experience at the gym.  There are BOSU workouts, bootcamp style interval workouts, etc.  And on the cover: a Post-it note that says “Because you are loved!!”

I told Mom how I’m getting back into fitness and ready to really hit it hard, and this is her way to encourage me.  :) I definitely have the warm fuzzies at this point.

Yesterday, I signed up for The Academy with Nerd Fitness:

 

The premise seems to be that it will guide me back into the fitness lifestyle by enticing me with the opportunity to level up my real life person instead of a digital character.  It plays like an RPG, except you get experience by doing things in real life.  The quest lines that you see there (General, Academy, Warrior, etc.) correlate to the type of training that you want to be doing.  I want to get started with the basics, so I’ll pursue the general quests first, then progress to The Academy and eventually start tackling some of the Ranger class quests.

I got 25 exp points for taking my ‘before’ photos, and I’ll get 25 more for taking my measurements.  The general quests start with small, easily accomplished goals and then work up to more challenging ones.  It’s just the inspiration that I need to get going without diving into the deep end and getting injured again.

We move in 2 weeks (if I’m lucky) and I have been dreaming about setting up a basement gym.  I’ve got images of rubberized flooring, inspirational posters, and blaring music dancing in my head.  Jeff wants to burst my bubble by reminding me that we have low ceilings, but then I remember that I’m short and go back to dreaming ;)

Can I have it? Pretty please?

So that’s what we’re up to :) I’ll be sure to keep you posted.  Stay classy!

house

We’re Moving!

 

wpid-imag1234.jpgWe found this lovely home within our budget… We had gone back and forth a couple times about actually buying it because there’s quite a bit of work that needs to be done in the house.  We had actually rescinded our offer to purchase the home, except the sellers altered the terms of the purchase and we came around.  This gives us so much to actually be excited about…  I know where we’re going to put our Christmas tree, and how I’d like to arrange the dining room.  I can picture what our guest bedroom is going to look like, and I’m pinning up so many ideas for what to do with the unfinished basement.

2014-09-07 21_27_14-For the Home on Pinterest _ 179 Pins

 

The real deciding factor was when we got our parents to do a walk-through of the house to get a feel for whether the problems that it has are insurmountable or not.  After seeing everything in person–including the pug room, and the spray-painted spare bedroom…

wpid-imag1177.jpg

wpid-imag1182.jpg

They said that they didn’t see anything that tells them to actually walk away from the house.  I think that the males in the family were impressed with the 30′ x 30′ garage, and I think that no one could really pass up the half-acre yard that’s already fenced in for pupper-duppers:

wpid-imag1007.jpg

Even though we went back and forth a few times, we’re still trying to keep the same closing-date as before… so here’s hoping that we’ll be able to move the weekend of 9/27.  It’s going to be a flurry of packing and cleaning until then, and sadly, I have to revert the kitchen back to the brown/yellow/red mess that it was when we first moved in.  There was a term in the contract that said no contact paper, but apparently the office staff didn’t read it any closer than I did.  Thankfully, they’ll let me just remove it instead of keeping my security deposit..

Kitchen

MegsFitness on Nerd Fitness – Battle Logs!

I’ve blogged in the past about how much happier and more content I feel when I am following the core strengths of health and wellness – including eating well, sleeping well, exercising, and making time for personal goals.  So, it stands to reason that now, more than ever, I need to get back into the patterns of healthy eating, getting enough (and higher quality) rest, exercising, and making time for personal goals. 

This blog has become more of a personal journal for me, which will definitely incorporate health and wellness, but it’s always been about more than that.  For me, it’s been about recognizing the fact that my journey — whether it’s to weight loss, muscle gain, social changes, or family life — is going to be completely different from someone else’s journey, even if we share many of the same characteristics.  To that end, I still have every intention of maintaining this blog and getting back into writing about things that are fun, interesting, or relative to my personal narrative.  

My day-to-day fitness narrative is going to be captured at Nerd Fitness.  It’s a community of fitness-minded individuals and I really feel like that’s the sort of encouragement I could use at the moment.  What that means for the MegsFitness blog is that I’ll be cross-posting my weekly summaries here, so that at least part of this journal can resonate with the “-Fitness” part of the name :D

I’m ready to get back to good.  I’m ready to lose weight, gain muscle, find my confidence, and conquer the world.  If you’re interested in joining The Rebellion, my “battle log” is found here: http://rebellion.nerdfitness.com/index.php?/topic/52946-amis-last-first-post/

[Begin Crosspost]:

Name: Aminarra, aka “MegsFitness”

e3ksDWIl.jpg

Occupation: Corporate Fleet Management Resolution

Previous Fitness Experience: 2 years on SparkPeople, 3 years with Weight Loss Warriors, 3 attempts at Weight Watchers, 1 attempt at Herbalife; 4 years high school strength training, 1 obstacle 5k, 10+ regular 5k Races, greatest weight loss 42lbs.

warriorroast.png?w=645

Current Level of Fitness: Sedentary.  It’s been 2 years since I’ve worked out consistently due to a severe back injury after the Warrior Dash.

“End Game” Goal: Working out 4+x/week, Settling at a healthy weight, ideally ~180, but more importantly having functional strength and physical health.

Short-term Goal: Begin working out 1-3x/week, at a beginner level to become re-acclimated to the fitness world. Begin reintegrating Paleo Lifestyle into eating plan  

Plan of Action:  Use Nerd Fitness to launch new fitness goals; integrate fitness guild with gamer guild for inspiration.  Generate weekly goals in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and personal.  Update status on goals at least weekly.

Outside of NF: 
https://megsfitness.wordpress.com/
http://www.vexxgaming.com/

Paint me a sunrise and I shall be content

image

The sunrise was beautiful this morning. I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it when I woke up this morning.  I’ve been laying on the couch, facing the window as pictured above, and watching the colors quietly shift and change.

When I first started watching, there was a bit of dark blue at the far corner of the window.  The blue has since retreated and been replaced with a lovely lavender color, pale and peaceful.  Though the foliage breaks up the scene, I can see that an orange the color of a summertime Push-pop or orange sorbet is starting to take center stage.

As I study the colors, and marvel at their beauty, the painter in me wonders how the purple and the orange can be right next to each other, but there’s no muddying of the colors.  There’s no hard line that says “this side is orange/this side is purple.” Then, as if to add to the illusion, a breeze stirs the leaves of the tree and they dance like glitter thrown across this masterpiece.

la vie est belle